Romanian MEP Monica Macovei said Malta is within touching distance of losing its voting rights in the EU if it does not address its rule of law problems.
A resolution approved by the European Parliament on the rule of law in Malta included the prospect of the EU opening infringement procedures against Malta by invoking Article 7 of the EU treaty.
An EU infringement procedure based on Article 7 is one used against member countries that have committed “fundamental rights violations”.
The MEP who was part of the first European Parliament delegation on the rule of law that visited Malta in November said “We don’t want Malta out of the EU, just for it to respect the rules and include a real separation of powers and efficient law enforcement.”
Macovei, who forms part of the European Conservatives and Reformists party, said that Malta needs to strengthen its fight against money laundering, corruption and tax evasion, adding that equality before the law between politicians and ordinary citizens must be “real and seen by all”.
“I feel that a lot of things are wrong in Malta at the moment. The Prime Minister has too many powers to appoint people or to veto decisions,” she said.
Expressing frustration that “nothing happened” following Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder, the MEP said the European Parliament delegation’s report on the rule of law in Malta has fallen on deaf ears and was “completely ignored.”
In a plenary resolution approved in November 2017, the European Parliament demanded that the rule of law in Malta be closely monitored, to ensure proper law enforcement and compliance with EU rules on money laundering and banking activities.
Among other concerns, MEPs noted a failure to investigate serious allegations of corruption and the sale of EU citizenship through Malta’s Citizenship by Investment programme. MEPs also called for an independent international investigation into journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination, with the full involvement of Europol.
A second rule of law delegation is expected to visit Malta in the coming weeks, while European Commissioner for Justice Vera Jourova, said she will be visiting Malta shortly to find out more about the investigation into Caruana Galizia’s assassination.
Last month, Jourova said that while the commission opened infringement proceedings over Malta’s failure to transpose the anti-money laundering directive, “we have several other things to talk about with Maltese authorities.”
Jourova said she is planning to visit Malta in May or June where she will among others discuss the need to strengthen the anti-money laundering agency, the FIAU, and “enquire about the state of play of the investigation of the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.”